ATTENTION: Spoilers possible
Wow, I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without seeing this movie. It’s
freakin’ amazing! La Jetée feel like a 28 minute long nightmare. The story
is told from a narrator over series of still photos, giving the feeling of
leafing through an old photo diary with the photographer telling you the
story as you go along.
La Jetée a group surviving beneath Paris after World War III has turned
Paris into a “desert”. "The Experimenter" has been working on theories of
time travel, as space travel is basically not going to happen. Many
prisoners are broken by his experiments because mentally they cannot handle
the intense procedure. While monitoring the prisoners dreams they find a
man with an obsessive memory from his childhood at the Orly Airport of a
woman's face and a man being shot. Using this memory as an anchor point
"The Experimenter" begins a series of successful trials in time travel. The
man repeatedly goes to the past meeting the woman at different points in her
life. Soon though it is realized that the past will not help mend the
present, a trip to the future offers the only hope. Luckily, the man is
successful and gains a new energy supply for his people. His usefullness
gone he realizes that he will be executed by his jailers. The man is then
visited by those he met in the future and offered safe haven with them. He
accepts but asks to be returned to the past to find the woman. His request is
fulfilled and he finally finds the woman at the Orly Airport only to be
executed by agents from his own time. As he lay dying he realizes that he
is the dying man in his memory.
Both films share many plot elements and ideas but I think La Jetée gets
credit for being the more creative of the two. I’m not giving shit to
Gilliam borrowing from this film but the presentation of La Jetée makes the
whole experience truly rewarding. The visual presentation and the sound
design put the movie in your head instead of in front of your eyes.
Plus it never hurts when your post-apocalyptic movies happen to be very
artistic and French. It helps in getting your girlfriend to actually sit
down and watch it with you.
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